Never Mind The Ballacks

  • Going, going, GONG!

    Robert LewandowskiBoth Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich can still swell their trophy cabinets this season with bona fide silverware, but only the champions are carrying off some prized swag as the season-ending, never-imitated frequently-bettered Never Mind the Ballacks end-of-term trinkets are dished out with gay abandon.

    Given they boast the best-ever points total for a Bundesliga season and set a swathe of league and club records in the campaign, you could accuse Jürgen Klopp's men of being plain greedy. That accusation certainly can be levelled at Lucas Barrios, who must already have a team of

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  • Hoeness wants to make Chelsea pay

    Player, administrator, plane crash survivor, sausage mogul - Uli Hoeness really is one of the great characters of European football''Meine Herren,'' exclaimed Uli Hoeness at Bayern Munich's General Assembly on 1 December 2010, ''the 2012 Champions League final will be at the Allianz Arena and we must be there at all costs.''

    Costs there certainly were, but the Bavarians are now just 90 minutes away from being the first club to be crowned European champions on their home ground since Internazionale in 1965.

    Reaching the Champions League final is a triumph for the club and a personal victory for Hoeness, the man who spent 30 years as general manager and is now club president.

    "I thought I was going to die,'' Hoeness said

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  • Freiburg Streich back

    Bundesliga relegation candidates in the 2012-13 campaign may be falling over themselves to ensure they're bottom of the table come next Christmas after what Christian Streich's Freiburg have done this season.

    It's getting to be a familiar scenario — the team rock-bottom and all but down-and-out in Germany's top flight at the halfway stage produces a miraculous recovery to preserve their place at the top table.

    Moenchengladbach did it last season under Lucien Favre, Freiburg are doing it this season under Streich.

    The south-westerners had just three points more than Gladbach did at the halfway

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  • The rise and rise of Robert Lewandowski

    Robert LewandowskiMario Gomez and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar both have more goals and bigger reputations, but Robert Lewandowski showed against Bayern Munich on Wednesday - and will likely show at Euro 2012 - that he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Europe's best strikers.

    Few outside of Poland had heard of Lewandowski when he joined Dortmund from Lech Poznan for what looks now like a ridiculously cheap 4.5m euros in 2010. It comes second only as a bargain to the laughable 350,000 euros Dortmund paid for Shinji Kagawa, and while the Japan international has already attracted Europe-wide interest from some

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  • Dortmund lick wounds after mad match

    When is a draw a defeat? That's a conundrum for Juergen Klopp, who saw his Borussia Dortmund team draw 4-4 with Stuttgart in the Bundesliga match of the season on Friday.

    The end-to-end thriller was significant not only for the staggering incompetence of the champions' defence but the fact that it allowed Bayern Munich to cut the lead at the top to just three points.

    Another Dortmund win seemed inevitable when they led 2-0 late in the game. Then, 20 minutes of sheer folly:

    71st min: Mats Hummels is left on his backside by a touch from beanpole defender Georg Niedermeier and Vedad Ibisevic

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  • Schalke must swallow pride for Raul

    Raul of SchalkeRaul of SchalkeSchalke fans may not have the fondest memories of Felix Magath's reign in Gelsenkirchen, but they should still be thankful that the Bundesliga's most demanding coach brought Raul to the club. With his two-year contract up this summer, the powers-that-be must now do everything they can to keep him there.

    There were more eyebrows raised than at a Carlo Ancelotti and Rafael Nadal joint-press conference when it was announced Raul would move from Real Madrid to Schalke in summer 2010. It just didn't seem to fit. A Real Madrid legend eschewing sun and sangria in the Spanish capital to go to gritty,

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  • The biggest signings this summer

    Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Mario GomezThe transfer window is well and truly shut but Bayern Munich and Schalke are nevertheless set to make their most important signings of the year.

    Bayern's Mario Gomez and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar of Schalke have resurrected their careers in spectacular fashion in recent seasons, to the extent that if either goal machine decides not to extend his contract, they will arguably be Europe's two most sought-after strikers this summer.

    Gomez, with 22 goals, and Dutchman Huntelaar, with 20, are having a battle for the honour of being the Bundesliga's top scorer, while their European exploits (Gomez has 10

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  • Bayern aren’t the finished article

    Fourteen goals in two games has everyone drooling over Bayern Munich right now, but Jupp Heynckes's side still have more than one or two creases that need ironing out if they want to win both the Bundesliga and the Champions League.

    A 'Tor-gasm' was how tabloid BILD described Bayern's glut of 'toren' — 'goals' in German — in their 7-1 defeat of Hoffenheim last weekend and their 7-0 dismissal of Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday.

    "A top display from the first minute to the last," said Heynckes more soberly - but undoubtedly less entertainingly - than BILD regarding his side's midweek

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  • The Zidan roadshow returns to Dortmund

    Mohamed Zidan knows all about goals - scoring them, celebrating them too much and not celebrating them at all.

    The charismatic Egyptian is on a record-breaking goalscoring run that shows no sign of ending. Sold by Borussia Dortmund on the best of terms by his old friend and mentor Jürgen Klopp, Zidan became the first ever winter signing to score in his first four games for a new club. Strikes against Schalke, Hannover, Hoffenheim and Kaiserslautern have steered Mainz away from the relegation zone.

    Game Five at Mainz was a trip back to Dortmund, where he spent three happy, if injury-hit,

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  • A typical week for Ribery

    It's been an outstanding, match-winning, disappointing, frustrating few days for Franck Ribery. In other words, a typical week in the life of the mercurial Frenchman.

    The Bayern Munich winger was on top of the world after steering his team to a vital 2-0 win over Schalke on Sunday, but had a night to forget three days later when France played Germany.

    Capable of brilliance one minute and mediocrity the next, adored in Bavaria but mistrusted in France, Ribery divides opinion like few others.

    Ribery was world class against Schalke. He was the best player on the pitch and scored a fine goal in

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